Lancaster runs out of inpatient drug treatment money, but says it could've been worse
Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | 03.03.17
Photo by AP Photo/John Minchillo
An addict, center, is attended to by emergency service workers after calling in for help after using, as heroin awareness and advocacy groups in Cincinnati rally on the steps of the Hamilton County Justice Center, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, in Cincinnati.
(Lancaster) -- As the drug crisis intensifies in some midstate communities, Lancaster County has run out of money to help people without insurance who need inpatient treatment.
But the head of the county's Drug and Alcohol Commission says without an aspect of the Affordable Care Act it may have spent all its funding far earlier.
Commission Executive Director Rick Kastner says Medicaid expansion has really helped his office.
While his agency is out of money for inpatient treatment this year, he says he can still direct people to the program expanded by Governor Tom Wolf in early 2015.
Kastner says Medicaid has helped so much that for the first time in his memory, he didn't run out of money for inpatient treatment last year.
"Those are services that my office doesn't have to pay for, and therefore, we then pay for those people who are not eligible for Medicaid and who also do not have private health insurance," says Kastner.
He says he's asked the county's assistance office to prioritize applications from people who need drug or alcohol treatment.
"So when Medicaid is able to kick on quickly, that just saves funding through my office to help other people," he adds.
Kastner says even with the expansion, there are still many people who aren't eligible for the program, but also can't afford health insurance.
Lancaster County is still funding detox and outpatient services for people addicted to drugs or alcohol. It ran out of money in February in the 2015-2016 fiscal year, similar to this year. But the crisis has intensified since then.
Overdose deaths from heroin, fentanyl or prescription painkiller in the county jumped 40 percent from 2015 to last year, according to the media outlet LNP.
Published in Medicaid